When Jesus was just days away from being crucified, he wanted his message to be clear. He was the Messiah, sent from God to show Israel and the rest of the world what God was really like. The kingdom of God had arrived, and people needed to know he was the King of this kingdom. But people also needed to know he was a different kind of king. He was a king that had power, but he would use that power for the sake of others.
For instance, when a “normal” king would start his reign, it would begin with some sort of triumphal entry when the time was right… showing his power. But Jesus would make no such entry. His triumphal entry, as it were, would look different.
In Luke 19, Jesus tells his disciples to go and get a slow-walking, small, never-ridden-before donkey. His triumphal entry to make it clear he was a king would be on a donkey.
Make no mistake, a donkey is a strong animal, and a donkey was thought of in higher regard then than it is today. In those times, any animal that could transport people or things was important. So the fact that Jesus was riding a donkey didn’t come across as some sort of joke.
This particular donkey, though, a young colt, had not yet been trained to have someone ride it. So in that regard, it was impressive that Jesus was able to ride it. But still, it was no stallion. It was an animal meant for carrying things. It was meant for service. It was a peaceful animal. For Jesus to ride on a donkey was a demonstration of humility. It was perfect—it represented power to be used for service.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the prophet Zechariah predicted to the people of Israel:
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)
In that prophecy, we see a remarkable contrast that describes Jesus: righteous and victorious, but also lowly and humble.
As Jesus followers, we should look to model in the same way. Whenever we’re given a position of influence—as a parent, a friend, a job title—our calling is to take that position and use it to elevate others.
Near the same time Luke was writing his Gospel, the apostle Paul said this in his letter to the Philippians:
In your relationships with one another, have
the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something
to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant
Before next time, read Luke Chapters 21 and 22.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, help me use whatever influence I have to inspire people to follow Jesus. Amen.”